Despite efforts to empower women, many challenges remain in closing the gender gap. Legal provisions such as affirmative action that provide for a woman representative in Parliament for every district have registered some improvement in the number of women in politics. But that is not enough.
Women continue to face widespread discrimination, especially in access to quality educations, land ownership, equal remuneration and economic empowerment even though governments make commitments to support women’s empowerment through international conventions on gender equality.
It was therefore exciting to see the US embassy launch a training programme for women entrepreneurs across different districts of Uganda last week. The training, to be conducted by the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is admitting at least 270 women from Moroto, Kitgum, Omoro, Nwoya, and Kampala districts in the first round for a free training programme. According to US ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac, the trainings will run up to January 2020.
The importance of this initiative, which rightfully targets women from all parts of the country, including rural districts where women have limited access to economic opportunities, cannot be gainsaid.
This country has several aspiring female entrepreneurs with feasible business ideas but they lack basic business knowledge and skills to run a successful enterprise.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (2017) notes that women are less likely to be entrepreneurs and face more disadvantages starting businesses and in 40 per cent of economies, women’s early stage entrepreneurial activity is half or less than half of that of men. This is why AWE is an initiative we welcome and applaud.
The programme’s goal of empowering women in various countries “to fulfil their economic potential, and in doing so, creating conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all” is a practical process that can greatly reduce household poverty, achieve social transformation and economic empowerment.
The women trained by AWE with skills to create sustainable businesses can, with support, change lives by passing the knowledge and skills acquired to members of their communities. An investment in the economic empowerment of women is a sure way of reducing poverty, bridging the gender gap and promoting inclusive economic growth.